Saturday, January 31, 2009

Japanese applications on English Windows XP

I have long been running Japanese applications on an English version of Windows XP on my old self-made PC. I built that sucker in early 2003 and it's still going strong. In fact that's an understatement, it's actually my main work machine! I may have had various problems at the beginning with Japanese apps, but have not had any in nearly 6 years. So I had forgotten what it was like.

Anyway, my new Dell Latitude E6500 notebook came with an English XP. I installed Japanese Buffalo wireless client software so it can talk to my Buffalo router, and this software displayed a lot of garbage characters. Later I installed Hidemaru and had the same problem, lots of garbage characters.

I poked around and found the solution:
Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> Advanced -> Language for non-Unicode programs

I set this to Japanese, and this solved the problem.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Resolution on new Dell notebook

My new Dell Latitude E6500 arrived!

Anyway, the first shocker was that its resolution is so good. Too good, in fact.

In fact it's optimized at 1920 x 1200 px. On a 15.4 inch screen that makes for some very small text! Maybe I'm getting old, but it was really hurting my eyes.

I tried playing with the following settings:
  1. Display Properties -> Appearance -> Font size
  2. Display Properties -> Settings -> Screen resolution
  3. Display Properties -> Settings -> Advanced -> DPI setting
Nothing was satisfactory. If I changed the resolution, e.g. to 1280 x 1024 px, I would have to use the Intel graphics board driver settings, additionally, to maintain the aspect ratio, otherwise everything becomes stretched sideways. But if I did that it ends up shortening the screen width and I end up with unused vertical black bands of space on the left and right edges of my monitor. Which is wasteful, considering how valuable screen real estate is! Trying various values of 1 and 3 above too didn't bring satisfactory results.

I called Dell tech support and the guy's advice was to leave the resolution at the native 1920 x 1200, leave the font size in 1 above as Normal, and change the DPI in 3 above to 125% or 150%. The font size in 1 is just the fonts, whereas the DPI setting changes the size of everything such as icons.

So I did so, but all the text layout everywhere still looked really sloppy. I was losing hope and was considering returning the machine. I stepped out for a bit to go to the bank and grab lunch... and it occurred to me that perhaps I should try restarting... after all the DPI setting dialog explicitly tells you that some programs won't work properly if you don't. I was just in the habit of not restarting.

So when I got back home I restarted, and lo and behold things displayed quite nicely!

Hopefully this will be of use to whoever reads this.